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Conservationists celebrate as this species makes a grand return4 min read

April 15, 2021 3 min read

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Conservationists celebrate as this species makes a grand return4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you recognise this rhinoceros?

The exciting news

Rhino Safari Sticker by Brown
Image: GIPHY

There is some exciting news about the Greater one-horned Rhino in Nepal. Its numbers have increased by so much that it was knocked off the list of endangered animals. It isn’t exactly out of the woods yet as it’s classified as vulnerable, but this is still good enough news for you to start tooting your horns. Nepal’s one-horned rhinoceros’ population has risen to 752, from 645 in 2015!

And to think last century, Nepal’s one-horned Rhino almost went extinct! But this wasn’t always the case. At one point, about a thousand Nepalese Rhino’s roamed the planet, particularly in the Chitwan National Park. However, in the 1950s and 60s, everything changed. The people of Nepal began fighting amongst themselves over differing political views. The fighting groups soon settled down around the park. Hunters saw this as an opportunity to strike. They could hunt as much as they pleased, unnoticed. Soon enough, human activity had destroyed both the park and its creatures.

Elephant Safari in Chitwan National Park - Jungle Safari Lodge
Rhinos and Deer stand by the river in the stunning Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Image: Jungle Safari Lodge

One-horned rhinos were in demand for their precious horn. It is used in traditional medicine, but studies have found no real health benefits to it. Moreover, the deforestation and loss of habitat that came with Nepal’s armed rebellion deeply impacted these ginormous creatures.

The Big Comeback

Ten years later, there were fewer than a hundred of the one-horned rhinos remaining! Conservationists panicked. Nepal’s prized animal was about to go extinct! They stepped up their efforts to put an end to this endless destruction faced by humans. Although they were set back by a 10-year war that ended in 2006, Rhino populations gradually started to rise again.

A one-horned rhino bathes in a river at Chitwan Park in Nepal. Image: The Kathmandu Post
Soldiers for Wildlife elephant conservation rhino sfw Sticker

The coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions positively impacted the rhino populations. But that was definitely not all. It took great effort and resilience to bring back these big grey beauties. Even soldiers were deployed, but this time their job was to protect the Rhinos of Chitwan Park, and it seems like they did a pretty great job!

Owliver’s Obscure Observation: Although poaching has significantly declined, the lockdowns provided a fresh opportunity. Last year, 4 rhinos were tragically killed by poachers.

How were they counted?

A team of rhino counters pictured riding elephants during the census
The Rhino Counting team riding on wild elephants. Image: BBC

Are you wondering, how on earth do you count so many rhinos? Well, it’s not an easy task. Around 350 conservationists and experts headed into the forest and counted the animals by hand. They looked at the rhinos’ horn shapes, skin folds, sex and age to distinguish one from the other. They travelled through the 950 square kilometre park on the backs of elephants as they (head)counted their heads off.

This journey was as challenging as it sounds.This journey was as challenging as it sounds. In fact, at one point, a wild elephant even attacked the rhino-counting team!

What makes this news so exciting?
What is biodiversity? Why is it important?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

With Excerpts From: BBC and The Kathmandu Post.

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